Buzkashi Boys: Meet Philly’s Unknown Oscar Nominee

The LA Times features a story about Buzkashi Boys, which has been nominated for an Academy Award in the live-action short category. The Afghanistan film was directed by American Sam French, a Philly native who moved to Kabul in 2008:

French, 36, who has directed numerous short narrative films as well as documentaries, music videos and commercials, said he made “Buzkashi Boys” because he wanted to show another side of Afghanistan than the one portrayed in news reports.

A Philadelphia native, he moved to Kabul in 2008, in pursuit of a woman who was starting a job at the British Embassy. “I thought I’d be dodging bullets every time I stepped out my front door,” he said.

Instead, he said, he found a culturally rich country full of untold stories.

He formed the nonprofit Afghan Film Project to help revive a fledgling local movie industry, ravaged by three decades of war and by the Taliban, which torched film reels, regarding most forms of entertainment as un-Islamic. “Buzkashi Boys,” which was filmed over 16 days in the winter of 2011 and clocks in at just under 30 minutes, was a product of that initiative.

Filming in a war zone had its challenges, French said. For example, a day after filming in a market, a rocket landed there. Special precautions were necessary. “We got police protection,” he said. “We didn’t shoot more than one or two days in a location.”

The whole story is worth reading, for additional storytelling from French, as well as its focus on the movie’s young star, Fawad Mohammadi.